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A Golden Goal and the cruelty of symmetry; the legend of David Trezeguet

The Juventus legend has been centre-stage for some of modern football's most dramatic and memorable moments

Some players, whether they like it or not, are forced to take centre stage time and time again.

David Trezeguet is such a player.

Some consider him clinical, some consider him wasteful; some admire his powerful finishing, some think he’s a hit-and-hoper.

Whatever you think of the Juventus legend, there’s no denying he was once one of world football’s central protagonists who has significantly shaped football’s recent history.

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He was born in Rouen, France but raised in Buenos Aires.

His father, Jorge Trezeguet, played for several Argentine clubs and was once banned on doping charges, something that consequently hindered his playing career.

Still, he was Trezeguet’s link to the world of professional football and once the youngster’s talent started to flourish, his surname fast-tracked him to success.

What set Trezeguet apart from the other kids his age was his powerful finishing with both feet.

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Ambidexterity is rare in youngsters and it was this trait that persuaded Platense to offer him his first professional contract.

Trezeguet’s ability with his left foot would eventually lead to the two best moments of his career.

But first we must focus on his time with Monaco.

He moved to the principality in 1995 and immediately struck up a rapport with a charismatic Frenchman by the name of Thierry Henry.

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Trezeguet’s emergence has a deadly finisher in 1997/98 is one of the reasons Henry was kept as a left-winger.

The man who would go on to become France’s all-time leading scorer bagged just four goals in 30 league games from out wide while Trezeguet grabbed the headlines.

The two men’s careers became entwined further when they won the World Cup together in 1998 and comparisons were inevitable by the time Trezeguet replicated Henry’s transfer from Monaco to Juventus.

Trezeguet’s Monaco years also played host to a unique personal achievement.

One of his 62 goals for the club came against Man United at Old Trafford in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Then just 21-years-old, he latched onto the ball at the edge of the area and fired it past Raimond van der Gouw with incredible velocity.

The strike was measured at just over 96mph and remains the hardest hit goal in Champions League history, though records are not kept in an official capacity by UEFA.

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Before his first season at Juventus there was the small matter of Euro 2000.

France had made it to their second major international final in a row thanks to Zinedine Zidane’s extra-time penalty against Portugal in the semis.

They would need extra time again in the final, in which Trezeguet scored arguably the most famous Golden Goal in history.

Robert Pires cut the ball back from the byline but the ball drifted slightly behind Trezeguet, and on his ‘wrong’ foot.

Most forwards would have taken a touch but Trezeguet, remembering his innate talent for wrong-footed piledrivers, swivelled and unleashed a thunderous volley into the roof of the net.

Cue euphoric French celebrations in the streets of Paris where Trezeguet’s name was displayed on the Arc de Triomphe, just as Zidane’s had been two years earlier.

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He had to settle for the role of understudy in his first campaign with Juventus.

Alessandro Del Piero and Filippo Inzaghi were the two regular starters but Trezeguet still bagged 15 goals in all competitions, scoring more with his left foot and head than his favourite right peg.

His instinctive finishing and deft touches in the box from his debut Serie A season provide the perfect antidote do anyone afflicted with the belief that Trezeguet was a wasteful hit-and-hoper.

The next season fired the Old Lady to the title with 24 goals from 34 games.

He was also named Serie A Player of the Year and shared the Capocannoniere with Piacenza’s Dario Hubner.

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From then on he would go on to build his legacy at one of the world’s proudest clubs one goal at a time.

During his quieter spells he would ‘go missing’ at times but he had the habit of scoring in the final ten minutes just when you’d forgotten he was playing.

Micheal Owen and Mario Gomez possess a similar quality; as do many other natural goalscorers.

He cemented his status among fans in 2006 when he chose to remain at Juventus despite the club’s relegation to Serie B following the Calciopoli scandal.

In doing so he joined fellow loyalists Del Piero, Gianlugi Buffon and Pavel Nedved in sacrificing a year of their careers to play at a standard way below their ability.

The fans have not, nor will they ever, forget those that proved their love for the club.

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2006 was also the year in which the cruelty of symmetry revealed itself to Trezeguet.

France met Italy in the World Cup final six years after Trezeguet had fired Les Blues to victory in Rotterdam.

In the seventh minute of the game, Zinedine Zidane chips his penalty onto the bar and, fortunately for France, the ball ricochets down over the line.

Fast-forward 103 tense minutes and Zizou is sent off for a violent headbutt on Marco Matterazzi in his last ever game before retirement.

The world is in shock, so much so that the details of the shootout are a blur.

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Not for Trezeguet though, he was the only player to miss his spot-kick.

Up against club team-mate Buffon, he hammered his kick onto the bar but, unlike Zidane’s, the ball cannoned down the wrong side of the line and bounced away from goal.

Given the drama of Zidane’s red card and the enduring image of him walking past the World Cup trophy with his head bowed, few chose to blame Trezeguet.

But had he taken a little of his penalty perhaps he, Zidane, life-long friend Henry, and several others, would be two-time World Cup winners.

The attention on Zidane and Matterazzi mercifully spared Trezeguet at least some guilt.

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The unique pain of shootout misery is an uncomfortably familiar one for Trezeguet.

He also missed Juventus’ first penalty in the 2003 Champions League final loss to Milan.

For such a natural-born winner, football’s Gods have made Trezeguet suffer more than his fair share of heartbreak.

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In 2010 he left Juventus for Hercules, departing as the Old Lady’s all-time leading foreign scorer and fourth highest in total.

His new club were relegated from La Liga despite Trezeguet’s best efforts and when he moved to UAE Pro-League side Baniyas it looked as if he career was winding down in unspectacular fashion.

But that simply wouldn’t have suited a character who had become accustomed to life under football’s spotlight.

In 2011 he forfeited £800,000 of Arab cash so he could join River Plate.

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The Buenos Aires club were Trezeguet’s childhood love and the transfer reignited a burning passion.

In the final match of the 2011/12 season he scored twice (and missed a penalty) as River Plate secured promotion back to the top flight of Argentine football.

Speaking about that season, in which he scored 13 goals in 19 games, he said: “I am feeling things that I have never felt before.

“Not with Juventus, nor with Monaco and not even at international level with France.

“Being a River fan and seeing the passion that exists in this team, all the people and all the pressure, I have more adrenaline than ever before.”

Trezeguet also said that his ‘heart was Argentina’s’ despite his 71 caps for France.

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He wound down his career with Newell’s Old Boys and then Pune City in the Indian Super League.

There he would come up against his old pal Del Piero, who was easing into retirement via a stint with Dehli Dynamos.

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From his days as Thierry Henry’s partner in crime to his contrasting international finals against Italy, Trezeguet was a magnet to on-field drama.

One of the game’s great entertainers, ultimately he deserves to be considered as one of the truest centre-forwards of the modern era.